Ah please I love Malta | Hannah Millar
SPINNAKER Magazine received a guest post from Hannah Millar who cannot stop waxing lyrical about her Maltese experience. Hannah travelled to Malta to visit family and spent some time sailing at the Club. Here is her first hand experience.
Can you imagine waking up to a view of hundreds of boats, yachts and ships just outside your window? Can you imagine enjoying a freshly baked loaf of wheaten or “soda bread” while still in your pyjamas? Can you imagine having your toes so warm and cosy in the comforting sun as its rays gaze down onto the balcony? Well, I don’t have to because I have experienced it all before! Those are only some of the reasons why the place I love is Malta…
I would say that the main reason I love Malta so much is the family that I have there (by blood and not). You see, my uncle Trevor has been living there for eight years… I think, and eight years ago was the last time we were there; other than when we went earlier in Easter this year– Best. Holiday. Ever. So you can expect that I was extremely excited to be going there again. PLOT TWIST! When we arrived it looked like uncle Trevor had replaced us with a family of his own, his “SailCoach” family, but they soon became family to me too. You wouldn’t be able to understand how much I miss them now… I feel like cookie monster without his cookie. Nevertheless, family is not the only reason why I love Malta; trust me, there’s a whole lot more…
That brings me onto my next reason. Sailing. Have you ever had the outstanding opportunity to go sailing? No? Well, if anyone ever asks you to, say yes. I wasn’t always the swashbuckling pirate I am now though. Believe it or not, it took me a long time and a lot of persuasion to find my sea legs. My dad and uncle Trevor had the opportunity to learn to sail when they were at school and never failed to choose sailing over school and studying; unfortunately, I’m not so lucky… Joking! Their sailing experiences had led my dad to have opportunities to sail and compete in various locations all over the world and also sailing around Ireland in four days (and dragging my mum along with him!) and led my uncle Trevor to coaching Olympic medallists and eventually opening his own sailing school in Malta; but my sailing journey all began when I was in P7. I am the youngest of two and my dad‘s efforts in making a sailor out of my older brother, Craig, resulted in him picking an engine over some ropes and a sail. Obviously, my dad felt destroyed that Craig had chosen a sailboats arch nemesis “The Motorboat” and so he turned to me to fulfil his dream and pass down the legacy of sailing Millars. I was the last hope.
Even though I had started sailing when I was 12 years old, my passion didn’t really light up until we went to Malta that time in Easter. I just wanted to make my dad and uncle Trevor proud that there was, after all, another sailing Millar in the family (since uncle Trevor has no children) and there was no better feeling than when I did. I don’t know what it was, but it was easier to sail in Malta; much more enjoyable. The Royal Malta Yacht Club was only a delightful stroll from our apartment, past all the moored extravagant boats and yachts, and there I found Dalton and Rüya. They were like the wind filling my sails. As well as my dad, these women taught me a lot about sailing when I was there and never neglected to help me when I needed it. Also, the weather was a whole lot more perfect in Malta than at home!
I can bet you that you’d rather be sipping a cocktail or a glass of wine (or beer) while reclining in a beach chair in a hot tropical country than marking my essay right now… Am I wrong? Yeah, that’s what I thought. It’s also another key reason why I love Malta (and no, not to drink alcohol!). It’s the wonderful weather that has the power to brighten up even the darkest of days. Besides the good weather for sailing, nothing can beat sitting on your balcony and letting the golden sun’s rays keep you warm while you’re eating breakfast, lunch and dinner; even though I’d hope while you’re in a foreign country you’d go out and enjoy the food and culture every now and then!
Speaking of, the food and culture in Malta is spectacular – right from how this country, at some point in history, was invaded by practically every other country trying to take it over, to the UNREAL Food Mall in the city of Valletta. If I was to choose a building I love, it would be that Food Mall. All around the edges are at least 30 different types of restaurants/cuisines you could choose from, depending on your mood at the time, and in the middle were bars for all the adults to enjoy. And there’s more! You could take an escalator down to below the Mall where there was a supermarket. I know right, can you believe it?! I’m jealous for you that you didn’t get to witness this majestic creation.
One of my favourite days at Malta (even though they were all my favourite!) was the day uncle Trevor took us everywhere… And I don’t mean that metaphorically. We used practically every mode of transport under the sun – from a rib to go to dinner, to the only car ferry in Malta to go to the tiny island of Gozo. Uncle Trevor had become our own personal tour guide and along with that he was Malta’s official encyclopaedia; spitting out obscure facts left, right and centre.
Although, some may argue that Malta would get unbearably warm and that there would be bugs crawling all over you and your apartment. Well, what I have to say to them is that it’s only summer when it gets up to 40°C or more and we went in Easter… So HA! Other negative Nancys would say: “Are you not scared of being in an unknown country to you?” No. Because I know that I’ll always have some family member (kinda) to guide me wherever I need to be.
All in all, I think that’s a darn good argument for why Malta is the place I love. Not only because it’s stunning, warm and has fantastic food, but because I have met so many astounding people who I am thrilled to consider part of my family. I have left Malta with more family than I arrived with, and definitely a much more diverse one. With a Dalton from America, Rüya from Turkey, Alex from Moldova and Vishnu and Upa from India. I can say that my Malta sailing experience has led me to win the Junior Sailing Cup [Editor’s Note – The Junior Sailing Cup was a competition to find the best up-and-coming young sailors at Hannah’s local Kircubbin Sailing Club where she lives in County Down, on the shores of Strangford Lough] and hopefully many more in the future!